A wonderful visit

Hi everyone!

One of our students left Ontario last year to go to Pearson College in British Columbia.  He dropped by for a visit today and I had a little chat with him.  He was talking about his French skills and how much they’ve improved.  He also mentioned how much more difficult he finds the courses there.  He talked about the testing methods in his French class.  His tests are essays — no grammar questions.  I also ask essay questions, but that’s not the only method I use.  However, Pearson College is a completely different context and different environment.  I would love to sit in on a class at Pearson College, just to see what they do.  I probably wouldn’t be able to transfer much into my own context, but I still think it would be interesting nonetheless.

My students are continuing their research for their projects.  I’m trying to give them as much library time as possible so that they’re not overwhelmed.

Bon week-end à tous!




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Research skills

Hi everyone!

I had my students working in the library today, and luckily most of them were working.  Hopefully they’ll all be in working order tomorrow.

Since my students are in research mode, I thought that I would talk about research skills.  I find that students really lack the skills necessary to do effective research.  It’s definitely something that we need to teach.  Students, as we all know, tend to use Google a lot, but there are also databases that are really good for research.  Podcasts and on-line magazines and newspapers are also great resources.  I try to encourage my students to use a variety of sources.

I also find that students  have trouble with citations.  I was able to find a great presentation on MLA format citations in French.  It’s so useful to have as a reference, especially for my Immersion classes.  I remember when I first found it, I was so excited and decided to show the students the presentation and go through the important points with them.  I told them not to use bibme.org.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great, (I wish it were around when I was in school!) but if students don’t know what information needs to be input into the fields, the end result will be incorrect.  I’ve had students put web addresses that took up two to three lines on a page!  The other problem with Bibme for French is that accents don’t work. Students put them in but when they print, they turn out to be funny characters.  Once I explained my rationale for not using Bibme, they seemed to understand my point.

We’ll see how the research goes.  I’m hoping to get the plans for the grade 11/12 research project tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sometimes technology fails….

Hi everyone!

I came to work today only to find out that the network was down. Not so bad unless you have booked your class into the library to do research on their projects for the ISU’s! So, with no working computers available and no lesson plan, I had to come up with something to occupy them for 75 minutes. I decided to show them a movie, because even though I saw the value in continuing with the subjunctive of irregular verbs, my students unfortunately did not. I showed them the film The Rocket for a couple of reasons. First, it takes place rougly around the same time as the play we just finished reading, Zone. During our discussion of the play, we talked about how Anglophones at the time were the patrons and the Francophones were part of the classe ouvrière, which is something that can be seen in the movie. The second reason why the film was appropriate was because their ISU is to do research on a famous North American Francophone, and one of my students is going to do a project on Maurice Richard. The film is great if you’d like your class to be exposed to the québécois accent. I think it’s important for them to hear different French accents.

Here’s the trailer:

I felt bad that one research period just went up in smoke, but “c’est la vie!” They still have tomorrow and Friday in the library. Hopefully we won’t run into this kind of snag again.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Le Petit Prince

Hi everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing weekend.  It was Victoria Day here in Canada yesterday, so it was nice to spend some quality time with the kids and enjoy the nice weather we had.

I’ve been working on Le Petit Prince with my grade 11 class.  I just love this story.  It’s really a classic and there is so much to talk about.  I think the students are really enjoying it.  I usually do chapter presentations as part of the unit, but since I have so few students this time around, I needed to modify things a bit.  I have them fill in a chart for each character the little Prince meets on his journey.  They have to figure out his occupation, positive character traits, negative character traits and the lesson learned from the chapter.  This idea was given to me by my former department head when I was just a new teacher and it works really well.  Comprehension questions can get a little tiresome after awhile.

I also have them make predictions by posting key words on the board.  I like this too because they can make connections with what they have already read and prepare themselves for what is to come.

My husband and I were watching a profile of a company on TV a few years ago.  (Don’t ask me which one…I cannot for the life of me remember).  What I do remember is that they talked about the CEO of this company and one of his requirements was for his employees to read “The Little Prince”!  I thought that was just so funny.  My husband, being a business person and not speaking a word of French, had no idea what the book was about and so I gave him a brief explanation.  The fact that Saint-Exupéry was a pilot also intrigued him greatly because flying is one of his passions.  I decided to buy him the book (in English, of course).  He doesn’t read novels, but he read this one and he just loved it.

I’m hoping to finish the text with my class over the next couple of weeks.  My students will be starting their ISU’s pretty soon, so much of their time will be occupied with that and I don’t want them to be overwhelmed.  We’ll see how that works out.  They get class time to read when I work with the grade 12 class.

À demain!




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The song was a hit!

Hi everyone!

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, my mise en train today was Willy Denzey’s song “Et si tu n’existais pas…”.  I introduced him by explaining that he grew up in France, but is of Laotian descent.  I got a little cry of joy from one side of the room.  I asked the student if she knew the singer and she said no.  Then I asked: “Tu viens de Laos?”  and she said “Oui!”  I love it when my French students can make personal connections to what we’re doing in class.  France and French culture becomes something that is relevant to them.

I explained to them that it is an R’n’B song that was popular in France a few years ago.  I had them fill in all the missing imparfait and conditionnel verbs.  They loved the song.  We heard it twice.  I had one student continually saying how much she loved the song and that she was going to download it.  When it was over, I showed them that on the right hand side of the screen, there was a video for the song “L’orphelin” and I mentioned that this song was very popular in France as well.   “Est-ce qu’on peut l’écouter, madame?”  I wasn’t going to say no to that!  Canadian teenagers wanting to hear French music… That’s a sign of success to me…

The one thing I was worried about was the fact that every single imparfait verb is “existais”.  I would have liked a variety of verbs, but I think it might be OK because it was repeating it over and over and I find that students tend to remember songs, so hopefully they will remember that si is followed by the imparfait.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Conditional sentences continued…

Hi everyone!

Sorry I missed my post yesterday.  It was one of those days…

Anyhow, to continue with my reinforcement of conditional sentences, yesterday I gave each student a strip of paper with a verb on it, but one edge was cut out in a puzzle piece sort of shape.  They had to circulate around and find the matching piece.  Once they had their partners, they needed to work together to invent a conditional sentence.

I like this activity because it has them walking around, talking and thinking about the structure of the sentence.  They would need to decide which verb they would use in the imparfait and which verb would be in the conditionnel.

Tomorrow I’m doing a song called “Et si tu n’existais pas…” by Willy Denzey, originally done by Joe Dassin.  I think my students will appreciate Willy’s version better.

I’ll let you know how that one goes!

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Cooperative learning task for conditional sentences

Happy Monday everyone!

I wanted to start off the week with a fun and interactive activity for my grade 9 Immersion class.  I did an activity called «Si j’enchaînais les si….».  Basically, I give each group of four students a piece of chart paper and a marker.  I put a sentence starter on the board such as «S’il faisait chaud,…».  They need to create a chain of conditionnal sentences using the one I give them.  So, for example, they could write:

«S’il faisait chaud, j’irais à la plage.»

The main clause now becomes the subordinate clause:

«Si j’allais à la plage, je nagerais

They keep going like this for 10 minutes.  I use online-stopwatch.com to project the time on the screen so that they can see exactly how much time they have left.  When the time is up, we post them around the room and I allot 2 points per sentence.  The group with the most number of points wins.  The prize today was organic lollipops, which unfortunately didn’t go over too well! I think they must have thought they wouldn’t taste good, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving them the lollipops with food colouring.  And the organic ones really are good.  Oh well, I tried… At least the activity went well!

Tomorrow I have another interactive activity planned for them to practice conditional sentences.

À demain!

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